In at the Deep End! Part 2
Once again, we are donning our goggles and taking a dive down into the subject of curriculum depth. In our previous blog on the topic, we discussed three important aspects of what is required to ensure curriculum depth. In this part, we will explore another three.
Incorporating these six key aspects is a great way to start addressing curriculum depth in your school.
Opportunities for Enquiry
In Part One, we mentioned high-order thinking as an aspect that is important in providing curriculum depth. We can tie this together with the need for opportunities for enquiry within the curriculum, to encourage deeper understanding. These opportunities can come in the form of teacher-led or child-led enquiry.
Relevant questions posed by teachers encourage pupils to explore a broad range of answers, sparking curiosity so pupils are eager to find out more.
An example of a child-led approach to developing enquiry can come through the concept of ‘Mantle of the Expert’. It uses “imaginary contexts to generate purposeful and engaging activities for learning.” Children become ‘experts’ in a particular area or field and are given a scenario where they need to use their knowledge and skills in order to complete an assignment given by a client. Interweaving can also play its part in this educational approach by allowing children to use their knowledge in a wide range of subjects to complete the given task.
Integration of Subjects
A significant amount of research has been done on the concept of interleaving, which is generally thought of as the mixing together of different topics within subjects, with the intention of improving the recall and retention of knowledge. However, this is not a tool for curriculum design. It is simply an important consideration when planning.
Interweaving within a topic or theme helps create a narrative flow, allowing learning to build sequentially. Just like a story narrative that can be remembered and recalled, so can the learning in a particular theme through interwoven subjects. Strengthened connections and inter-disciplinary understanding is a feature that leads to greater depth.
Authenticity of End Products and Goals
It is still important as teachers and educators to have clear goals and outcomes that define the depth of knowledge and understanding our pupils have at the end of a theme, year group and even key stage. We need outcomes to be clear, relevant and authentic.
At the end of a theme, for example, we may want our pupils to produce a piece of work where they can demonstrate what they have learnt. We need to think about why we are asking them to produce it and what relevance it holds to the learning. We can refer back to meaning and relevance from Part One; if pupils understand why they are being taught something, the outcomes will be far more authentic than if they are learning about something with little or no context.
Schools are often being asked to produce ‘end goals’ for subjects, year completion or key stages. It is important to ask yourself when writing these, ‘Why am I writing them?’ ‘What do I want them to tell me?’ and ‘How will I use them effectively?’
Ultimately, we want to know how far we have delved into learning the curriculum and how successful this has been, returning to the surface with authentic, relevant and meaningful outcomes.